Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is an important phospholipid constituent in the lipid bilayer cell membrane of all cells. PC plays a crucial role in the formation and structural integrity of these cell membranes, with far-reaching consequences for the health of the body. PC can also serve as a source of choline for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for normal brain, memory and mood functions. PC is considered essential for normal brain development of the fetus. PC also plays an especially important role in the liver, where, as a key component of liver cell membranes, it has been shown to support normal liver function, and help protect the liver from alcohol, pollutants, viruses, and other toxic agents. Phosphatidylcholine is good for the brain, liver, and whole body.
PC supports brain function as a key precursor in the production of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine supports effective communication across neurons, resulting in protection and enhancement of brain, memory, and mood functions.
Human studies indicate PC supports healthy liver function, and some researchers suggest this is due to PC’s ability to increase cellular membrane fluidity and support the integrity of the membranes of liver cells. PC may also increase hepatic collagenase activity.
PC supports overall cellular function in several ways. It supports cell-membrane integrity through incorporation into the membranes, fluidizing the membranes; it supports cellular energy production by converting to fatty acids and glycerol which then get oxidized to produce energy; and it supports intracellular communication (signal transduction). Adequate PC levels are important in normal membrane signal transduction, which is crucial to normal cell function, growth and maintenance.
How does PC compare to straight choline, which is also available as a nutritional supplement? Choline comprises about 15% of the weight of phosphatidylcholine, and PC can also convert to choline in the body, where, as mentioned, it plays an essential role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, as well as the methyl donor betaine and other phospholipids.
PC provides a better delivery form of choline than choline itself, and is more tolerable as well.
Animal (baboon) studies using each of these confirm that phosphatidylcholine has superior long-term hepatoprotective effects to straight choline, and plentiful human research on PC confirms the advantages of supplementing with PC.